Getty hand car wash

The Car Wash Association (CWA) has played a major part in trying to stamp out modern slavery in the non-compliant hand car wash industry and today, as part of its campaign, the group will be represented at a stakeholder engagement roundtable in London.

This is hosted by the office of the director of Labour Market Enforcement, which is seeking input into shaping the director’s strategy for 2024/25. This will be submitted to ministers by the end of November.

These roundtables will provide stakeholders with the opportunity to discuss the key issues and present evidence to the director, in a forum that encourages open discussion and debate.

There are four themed sessions for which the CWA will be providing evidence of non-compliance with labour market regulations as well as emerging trends and risks.

Today (June 12) Theme 1 Recruitment is being discussed in relation to online, offshore and overseas recruitment; right-to-work checks; digital exclusion; recruitment through social media; and recruitment fraud.

On June 15, Theme 2 Employment will be on the table. This will look at new models of employment, some involving intermediaries, ambiguous employment status, bogus self-employment, non-payment of minimum wage (eg due to deductions, unpaid hours), issues associated with remote working and lack of informative payslips.

On June 19, Theme 3 Communication will discuss the most effective ways to increase business’s awareness of obligations to workers – carrot or stick? Also, how to reach workers most at risk of exploitation through formal or informal education and awareness-raising channels.

Finally, on June 22, Theme 4 Hidden High Risk Sectors will be looked at with a focus on what factors create the risks and how can they be addressed.

The CWA has also brought to the attention of the enforcement agencies the increased profitability of HCWs now that their numbers have dwindled from possibly 20,000 before the pandemic to around 5,000-6,000. This has allowed them to raise prices dramatically.

Alexander Russell, director of strategy at the CWA, says: “This new-found and additional profitability has in turn led to fears that they have once more become a magnet for traffickers to set up in order to be able to offer the lure of ‘employment’ to their migrant victims.”